Like most of the entrepreneurs, that have setup the thousands of small and medium sized businesses in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, it’s the excitement and pride of developing a great idea, producing fantastic products or delivering an outstanding service that drives success.
Strong financial direction is rarely the thing that drives leaders, but most appreciate it’s an essential element of a successful business’s winning formula. Without a strong plan, and good governance, few businesses will survive and success is left to chance.
Our mission is to help small and medium sized businesses throughout Bristol and South Gloucestershire manage their finances efficiently, liberating their key people to focus on what they do best; working with customers and winning new business.
With a part time Finance Director, we will help you to define your corporate direction and financial strategy. Then, on a regular basis, review and report on progress towards your goals. We’ll help you understand how your business is performing and help you make decisions based on timely and accurate information.
Whether you’re an ambitious new business, an established player just trying to survive or a not for profit organisation looking then cash management is the critical success factor. We can help you to establish your financial direction then help you design and implement best practise cash management to maintain, manage and control liquidity.
A large business will have a full time Financial Director (FD). Small and medium sized organisations find it difficult to justify a full time FD either in terms of cost or work load. But look carefully at the most successful businesses throughout Bristol and South Gloucestershire and you’ll see that strong Financial Direction is a recurring theme.
At Amber Business, we help you build and maintain that strong finance operation without the cost of a full time Finance Director. Working with you in a part time capacity, we will help you define your goals, setup and manage the operational elements needed to manage cash flow and support confident decision making with up to date, accurate, information.
For larger organisations, we can work with you to provide Interim Finance Director cover for an extended period of absence without the inconvenience and cost of recruitment and candidate selection.
Whether you need just a few hours, days or weeks a month, we’ll provide the skill set you need on a part time basis, but with a full time commitment.
Success is too important to leave to chance. We all need some luck, but we can shorten the odds and improve our chances of surviving or winning new business with a well structured business plan.
We’ve been working with businesses and not for profit organisations throughout Bristol and South Gloucestershire since 2003 to improve the quality of business development plans. The process is tried and tested, successful and simple.
We start by clarifying and recording your personal and business objectives. Unlike in larger corporates, we understand the impact personal objectives can have on the business plan. That’s why involving a highly skilled, independent and experienced part time Finance Director can be a valuable addition to the planning process.
We’ll encourage you to be honest about what drives you and the business and work with you to define the personal and business outcomes you’d like to see. Then we’ll test them to make sure they’re realistic, achievable and aligned with each other.
Together we create a business plan, supported by a clearly defined financial strategy, budgets and cash flow forecast that will help you keep the business focussed. We consider each of the key areas in your business and develop a strategy to help you reach your goals.
Building on our extensive experience working as a part time finance director with more than 15 businesses since 2003, we can help you budget for success and set up the processes you need to manage operations efficiently. Working together we’ll help identify and manage risks.
We’ll identify KPI’s (key performance indicators) and other measures that will help us to understand how things are progressing and we’ll use this to track performance every month. We then work with you on a regular basis to implement them and maintain direction towards your objectives.
We focus on what you have said is important and when required, focus on internal and external factors that could reduce the chances of success. Then we work together adapting plans to improve performance or mitigate factors outside our control – helping you to ‘stay lucky’ and keeping you on-track to delivering your goals.
Why do we adopt this approach? Because it works!
It is tough, very tough, leading a small business.
Ask many entrepreneurs and business owners who they are accountable to and they will tell you, ‘the tax man’ or ‘the bank manager’. The truth is we are not truly accountable to anyone.
The tax man and bank manager make us accountable for our businesses and reap the rewards of our success. They understand entrepreneurs are by their very nature highly motivated and driven people. Success works like a drug providing the fuel needed to keep business leaders delivering, putting in the long hours, energy and enthusiasm needed to motivate those around them to deliver growth and success.
However, businesses rarely operate in isolation from the world around them. Sometimes factors outside our control – a cyclical economy, technical innovation or a banking crisis can impinge on our world – changing the rules. Challenges like these seem to have a disproportionate effect on small and medium sized business and it’s at times like this when entrepreneurs need an impartial friend to challenge our thoughts, provide a sounding board to bounce ideas off and not simply say “yes” because we’re the boss!
Our Coaching and Mentoring programme for business leaders throughout Bristol and South Gloucestershire is designed to provide the support and encouragement business leaders need in good and bad times. We’ll support you with help and advice to help you manage your relationship with key stakeholders like the Bank so that you’re ready to expand when the right opportunities arise.
We put all the elements together, financial direction, business development, coaching and mentoring in one package. Answering the questions every entrepreneur wants to know... ‘How are we doing?’, ‘Where next?’, ‘Who can help us achieve things more quickly?’ We’ll act as the navigator to your business and support to you as you grow.
"Michael’s role is to oversee the finances and guide the overall growth and development of Extract Coffee. He has worked with us almost since the beginning and offers practical advice, listens to what we want to achieve and understands our ethos whilst translating our objectives into easy to understand business modelling tools. Michael demonstrates a passion and commitment to Extract Coffee Roasters which we value."
Marc Richards – Extract Coffee Roasters
Initially Yours are a small company based in north Bristol which supplies embroidered and printed garments to schools, businesses, sports clubs and teams. Particularly strong in the schools market, they have a growing reputation for quality of service and supply both to schools and parents direct.
"When the recession hit in 2008, we needed to rethink our business model and make a shift in emphasis to ensure survival of the business. Michael was instrumental in overseeing this shift, providing advice about budgeting and the all-important cash flow. We had a challenging year where the restructuring took place but since then our turnover has grown substantially – well above budgets – without forsaking any margin. We look forward to Michael’s monthly visits which provide us with accurate figures from which we can make sound judgments about the immediate future and longer term. We have just finished another successful trading year where figures are 15% above our budget which had already allowed for growth. Michael is very much one of our team, helping us focus and move forward – we now have a 5 year financial plan in place – we know where we have come from, where we are going, and how we are going to get there."
Carole Lerway - Director
Metryx is a specialist metrology company, producing high technology products in a complex sale’s and marketing environment. Our Customers are multi-billion dollar microchip companies demanding the highest standards from our products and employees.
"Providing succinct financial information to the Board of Directors and our Customers is a key part to ensuring successful operational management. Michael has worked with Metryx for a number of years preparing financial reports in both an historic context and for future projections. In a rapidly changing high-tech environment the importance of having a team member with financial expertise to match our industry expertise cannot be underestimated. He is very good at communicating financial information in a language we can understand, providing information on which we can reliably act, manage the business and minimise risk."
Dr Adrian Kiermasz, CEO, Metryx Ltd
Amber Business was set up in 2003 to provide practical financial and business support to the small and medium sized businesses in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
The business was set up by Michael Pain; a qualified Chartered Certified Accountant. He trained with one of the large accountancy practices in Sheffield working with large blue chip clients and smaller local businesses. It was here he developed his interest in distinct challenges and rewards facing small and medium sized business.
After several years of working with owner managed businesses advising on accounts, tax, business and finance he was persuaded to join one of his rapidly growing clients in the newly created position of Finance Director. A true baptism of fire! Michael learnt first-hand about real cash management, working long hours and what it takes to operate under intense pressure.
Two thoughts kept nagging in Michael’s head.
What do growing businesses do when they want business and finance knowledge but cannot afford a full time finance director? Where do they find the information and do they get it from people with real experience and applied knowledge?
What does it take to set up and run a business from the beginning?
These two thoughts, along with missing the variety and excitement of working with several different clients, led to the start of Amber Business.
Michael continues to work with a variety of clients on both a short and longer term basis and continues to develop his in-depth understanding of the particular challenges facing owner managed businesses. Not only does he work closely with owner managers he works alongside non executive directors and is able to tap into and share their wealth of knowledge with other organisations.
Amber Business works with clients from start up to exit. Our appointments tend to be for the longer term; however, we also undertake short term project work. We select the clients we work with based on their requirements and their desire to work in an open and collaborative manner. No client is too small and when it comes to cost we work to find a solution to suit all parties involved.
Want to know more? Call us now for an informal chat